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2005 college business graduates are finding more job offers, better salaries


This is shaping up as a great year to graduate from business school. Not only are employers sending more recruiters to campus, but there appears to be growing demand for graduates with business training suited to mainstay Midwestern industries.

After several relatively cool years, placement of graduates at the Iowa State University College of Business is heating up. Not only have recruiter visits increased by 25 percent nationally, but students also tell me they are receiving more offers and at slightly higher salaries than employers were offering graduates a year ago.

The upturn in placement at Iowa State is in sync with national trends. According to a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), this year’s job market looks to be substantially better than last year’s, especially for M.B.A. graduates. Employers responding to the NACE’s 2005 M.B.A. Benchmark Survey estimated they would hire 24.9 percent more new M.B.A. graduates in 2004-05 than they did in the 2003-04 academic year.

The business disciplines in which recruiters are showing the most interest include sales, accounting/financial services and supply-chain management, including manufacturing, operations management and transportation and logistics management. This demand suggests a strengthening of the labor market in the transportation, manufacturing and financial services sectors, all of which are prominent in Central Iowa.

Hiring of management information systems graduates has improved significantly this year, but still has not rebounded to the levels seen before 2000, when the technology sector slipped into recession.

Not only are graduates finding more opportunities in the workforce, they’re also finding those opportunities come with improved salaries. Recruiters at the Iowa State University College of Business typically offer salaries 3 percent to 7 percent greater than those offered to graduates a year ago. Some graduates at or near the top of their class are receiving multiple job offers. Hiring bonuses, which virtually disappeared during the last recession, also are being offered again to top students in highly competitive disciplines.

The U.S. Labor Department’s February employment report confirmed that the job market is improving. An estimated 262,000 non-farm jobs were added to the nation’s payrolls in February. The numbers reflected job growth in both goods-producing and service-producing sectors.

However, with the national unemployment rate still at 5.4 percent, it’s still very much a buyer’s market. Employers may have more jobs to offer this year than last, but they are extending job offers to top candidates earlier than in previous years to beat other employers in the race for the top graduates.

The race for talent also may drive some recruiters to interview fewer candidates before extending job offers. That’s why it is important for students to take an active approach to job seeking. Internships remain an effective way to improve prospects for landing a job upon graduation, as many employers turn first to former interns when filling key vacancies.

Kathy Wieland is the director of business career services at the Iowa State University College of Business.

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